Saturday, February 5, 2011

flying stone

Everything that lives wants to fly
A Mohawk friend told me
As we watched grosbeaks take seeds
Fluttering before our eyes
They were dinosaurs once
They gave up their power in return for the sky.

She had lived with that poem all her life. All her life she had dreamed she could fly. And the dreams were so real, that every morning when she awoke for a split second she forgot it was a dream. And in the next second was the disappointment that she could not, in fact, fly.

All her life she had been bound to the earth, to the hard rock that covered the land she lived on. Her home was by the sea, a sea, that although it’s name meant Peaceful, could be stormy, harsh, unforgiving and angry. The waves would crash against the stony coastland. A coast land that was jagged, like the coast of Finland, like the coast that was said to have been made by the shoulders, and arms and neck of a giantess who was so tired of swimming.

She had grown up on that rocky coast. Running over the barnacled rock with her bare feet, calloused and cut numerous times. She had fallen on those rocks so many times, bandaged knees were the norm. Her mother dabbing the blood with a soft cotton cloth as she picked out the shells and pebbles before bandaging her up yet again. She loved those rocky beaches, she always had rocks in her pockets, or on her bedside table, or on the kitchen window sill.

She had met her son’s father on another beach not so far away. A beach where large basalt, six-sided formations cliffed against the ‘not so peaceful’ sea. He was a scientist. He was older than she was. He knew so much about the rocks that she had taken for granted all her life. She loved him, And she loved those rocks, she did. But sometimes, she still dared to look to the sky.

As often happens in stories such as this, love stories, a son was soon born to her. A son with eyes as blue as the sky that domed the ocean, and a will as strong as the rocks that surrounded her.

And so….life went on….she raised her son to a strong young man, she grew older, and weary, and forgot about flying - she let her dreams go. She just kept her feet on the ground, on those rocks, and kept her eyes on the sea - in case it would decide to lash out at her and steal those she loved so much.

She shared her name with another young woman who had lived a long time past. She too had a son, she too had married a man older than her. Sometimes she wondered if that ‘Mary’ had ever dreamed of flying. She had only heard stories of her adult life, homeless, scared, blessed, mournful.

Her son knew her well. He would see the far off look in her eyes when she talked of her youth, of the rocks, and the sea, He too shared his father’s scientific mind, and he too wanted to show her the magic and mystery of these giant rocks that have stood for millions of years. For him rocks were a freedom, he understood that rocks could help you to fly.

Come, he said, one late summer afternoon. Let’s walk. Let us go on a hike. There is something I want to show you. He had a gift for her. And so they walked. Up. Up the backside of a huge granite column. It rose 650 metres above them, the trail slowly zig zagging its way up and up and up. Above the tree line, above the ‘not so peaceful’ ocean, above and away from her rock bound life. On the ascent she could only feel the rock beneath her feet, the scrap on her knee from a tumble, the cool rock on her hands as she supported herself through thin crevices, the hot rocks as she scrambled up the last few metres.

They reached the top. A plateau. Flat, and warm. Isolated and still. A chipmunk welcomed her by running up to her and perching on her ankle. She felt like a small girl again. A great raven flew over her head, so close she could hear the whoosh of air in its mighty wings. She could look right into its eye as it flew past her. She remembered her dream. She remembered the words of her Mohawk friend. So did her son.

Come, he said. Come to the edge. Kneel down. Crawl forward. Push yourself out over the edge. So she bellied out until her chest, her shoulders, her arms, and her head were jutting out over the edge. 650 metres above the sea. The sides fell away so steeply she could not see them.

Put out you arms, he said. Look up, he said. She put out her arms. She looked up. The warmth of the great stone under her belly and her hips secured her to the earth, but she felt like she was flying. She soared with the raven. She felt like she was flying. Her dream had not died afterall.

Everything that lives wants to fly
A Mohawk friend once told me
As grosbeaks gathered seeds
Fluttering before our eyes
They were dinosaurs once
But they gave up that power
In return for the sky.


  1. Thanks for sharing that wonderful story. It caused me to pause and ponder my dreams.

  2. You have such a beautiful way with words - as I saw you in my mind's eye lying at the edge of the cliff, I could feel myself flying too!


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